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- Minister of Police and Another v Stanfield and Others (1328/2018) [2019] ZASCA 183 (2 December 2019) SCA)

Introduction
Section 31 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (“the CPA”) provides as follows:

“31. Disposal of article where no criminal proceedings are instituted or where it is not required for criminal proceedings

(1)(a) If no criminal proceedings are instituted in connection with any article referred to in section 30(c) or if it appears that such article is not required at the trial for purposes of evidence or for purposes of an order of court, the article shall be returned to the person from whom it was seized, if such person may lawfully possess such article, or, if such person may not lawfully possess such article, to the person who may lawfully possess it.

(b) If no person may lawfully possess such article or if the police official charged with the investigation reasonably does not know of any person who may lawfully possess such article, the article shall be forfeited to the State.

(2) The person who may lawfully possess the article in question shall be notified by registered post at his last-known address that he may take possession of the article and if such person fails to take delivery of the article within 30 days from the date of such notification, the article shall be forfeited to the State.”

Section 102 of the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000 (“the FCA”) is about the declaration by the Registrar of Firearms (who is in fact the National Commissioner of the SAPS) of a person as unfit to possess a firearm.

Background
The following three persons namely Ralph Israel Stanfield, Nicole Johnson and Francisca Stanfield (hereinafter

collectively referred to as the respondents [Afrikaans: “verweerders”]) were subjected to a search in terms of a search warrant issued under the CPA. Certain firearms (“the firearms”) were seized by SAPS members during the said search.

Accordingly, the respondents were arrested and charged with various offences relating to the unlawful issuing of the licences for the firearms.

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[This is an extract of the discussion of this court case that is published in Servamus: November 2020. If you are interested in reading the rest of the discussion, contact Servamus’s offices by sending an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phoning (012) 345 4660. Ed.]

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